Name: Jennifer Goodridge
Program: 35 – Walla Walla
Position: Behavioral Intervention Support Specialist (BISS)
Can you explain your job title a little bit more in depth, meaning what does a BISS individual do?
I work directly with clients every day and interact with them. We try to be their mentors and typically try to keep the clients on a one-on-one activity schedule. The reason we do our best to keep activities one-on-one is that it results in calmer, more relaxed environments, and prompts fewer behaviors from clients. I try to keep the activity at the client’s pace and choice of what they want to do. I always want them to feel that they have control in the situation and that I give them choices. I usually give them 2-3 options, so as not to overwhelm with too many, while also taking into consideration their likes and interests. This way the clients feel safe, comfortable and you gain trust with them as well.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Right now, because of Covid, I have a client that I pick up every day and bring to the office to help him with his schoolwork. It can be hard for him to focus in a class setting when he is not physically in school. There is a lot of redirection and support that is needed for this client; he is a teenager who wants to hang out with friends. We have a reward system that has been helping him focus on completing his work.
I support another client and I spend a lot of time doing her hair. She is a younger client, and she has African American hair. That has been a learning curve for me, and I have really been enjoying it and learning all the creative styles that come along with this type of hair.
How has Covid-19 affected planning different outings? And what are some issues or roadblocks that have been presented?
We have encountered more behaviors because of lockdowns (stay-at-home state regulations) during Covid, which is a new challenge. It has been really challenging for the clients because they feel that they are locked in their homes and cannot go anywhere due to the limitations. Parks have been the go-to, but with the colder weather we are now experiencing it is hard to find alternative activities. However, the communities have been simply amazing. One example is a gentleman who lives nearby and owns a gym on his land. Since it is a private gym, he has been letting the clients run around and play basketball and other games there. Simply providing an outlet for our clients to get energy out and just enjoy life a little has helped curb behaviors. These kind neighbors and creative solutions have been a saving grace during Covid.
How do you make sure that you are showing a deep profound respect towards the individuals that you do work with?
I will refer to the statement I made earlier regarding providing clients control of their own decision making. I always do my best to remain calm no matter what. People feed off other individuals, so when a client is experiencing anxiety, the best course of action would be to provide a calm and steady response to them and help them through it. When outbursts or behaviors do happen, I stay calm, stand back, and let them filter out their feelings and their thoughts. I then engage with them when I feel that it is safe to do. I help with de-escalating their behavior as well. I also let them come to me, instead of me going to them, and I make sure they know that I am not only here for paycheck. I am here because I genuinely care for these people. I always reassure them that I am not here for a paycheck – but I am here to help them live their best lives and support them as best I can.
If I could talk to any one of your clients, what are the ways that they would say you show respect towards them and show the SA Values?
They would probably say that I let them have control. They love it when they get to pick what activity or item they get to do for that day. I engage with them, play and I get on their level. I do not try to present myself as an authoritative figure in a way of control and dominance, I do it in a way of respect and courtesy. I want them to see me as someone that they can come and talk to and know that what they say matters. I want to listen and help.